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The Klipfish Code

The Klipfish Code

4.8 15
by Mary Casanova

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The year is 1942, and Norway is under Nazi occupation. Twelve-year-old Marit has decided to take action, despite her grandfather’s warnings. But will her plan work? Can she really complete her part of this secret code? And even if she can, would it make any difference to the Resistance?
As this novel reveals what Norwegian people did to preserve their dignity


The year is 1942, and Norway is under Nazi occupation. Twelve-year-old Marit has decided to take action, despite her grandfather’s warnings. But will her plan work? Can she really complete her part of this secret code? And even if she can, would it make any difference to the Resistance?
As this novel reveals what Norwegian people did to preserve their dignity and freedoms, it uncovers a startling statistic: the German secret police systematically rounded up one teacher in ten and sent them to concentration camps for their refusal to teach Nazi propaganda to Norwegian schoolchildren. Set on an island of sturdy fishing trawlers and brightly painted homes, with smells of kelp and salt water, here is a riveting novel about risks taken, secrets kept, and, always, questions about whom to trust.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[T]his suspenseful historical tale is...noteworthy for drawing attention to a region...not commonly featured in...fiction about World War II." Booklist 10/15/07 Booklist, ALA

"Casanova spins an adventure-filled and harrowing story...another novel of heroism and perseverance." SLJ 10/2007 School Library Journal

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
770L (what's this?)
File size:
361 KB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

In her dream, Marit raced Papa on her new wooden skis, farther and farther away from their hytte—their mountain cabin—and this time she was winning. Across the blinding whiteness, she pushed on, defying the mountains, said to be trolls turned to stone. She herringboned to the next peak, her thighs burning with the effort, then pushed off with her poles, and swooshed down through knee-deep powder.

An explosion wrenched Marit Gundersen from her sleep and shook her to her rib cage.

Wide-eyed, she bolted upright. Her skin prickled with fear. In near darkness, Marit flung back her feather-filled dyne and swung her legs over the bed’s icy edge. What had startled her? Her mind darted back and forth. An early thunderstorm in the mountains? The train from Oslo—had it crashed? Had the steamer exploded in Romsdal Fjord?

Mama burst into Marit’s room. “Marit!” she cried. “Get downstairs!”

“Mama, what’s going on?” Surely there was an explanation and no need to panic.

But Mama’s flannel nightgown swirled at her ankles as she turned to the hallway. “Come, Lars —you must wake up!”

Marit yanked a sweater over her nightgown, shoved her toes into her sheepskin slippers, and then stumbled from her room—right into Papa, his unlaced boots hitched over his pajama bottoms.

Marit squared her fists to her waist. “Papa, tell me what’s going on—”

“Downstairs to the cellar!” he said, his hand firm on her shoulder as he guided her toward the stairs. “Questions later.”

Mama dragged Lars through his bedroom doorway, but he pulled back against her hand and dropped in a heap on the floor.

“I don’t want to,” he moaned.

“Lars—wake up. I can’t carry you!”

Shrill and piercing sounds whistled overhead, followed by a thunderous boom-boom-boom! Papa turned and scooped Lars over his shoulder—as if he had just turned three, not seven—and down the stairs they all flew.

The living room walls shuddered. Dishes rattled in the hutch, and the mantel clock and lamps crashed to the floor. Before Marit and her family had crossed the room, another explosion hit nearby—boom!—and the living room window shattered. Marit grabbed Papa’s arm. “Papa, look.” Beyond the empty frame, and under the questioning gaze of snow-topped mountains, strange planes wheeled through the dusky sky. The pounding continued.

“No time! Under the table!” Papa shouted.
They dived for shelter as an ear-ringing roar passed over them. Marit cowered. What in the world was happening? Though she was in grade four, old enough to brave many things—she was a fast skier, always the first of her friends to jump into the icy fjord waters in spring, the one who wanted to hike to the topmost peaks in the summer—now she barely knew herself. She clutched Mama’s waist like a frightened toddler. With each explosion that shook the house, waves of fear rolled through her. Finally, a troubling quiet fell.

The house groaned with brokenness.

No one spoke until the last plane droned away.

Mama’s blue eyes were set in an ash-darkened face, her normally blond hair now blackened with soot. “Marit, are you all right?”

How was she to answer? Nothing seemed real. Only yesterday they’d returned from skiing on their spring holiday. Only yesterday she’d left their grass-roofed hytte in the mountains. Only yesterday she’d laughed until her cheeks hurt. With a sunburned nose, she’d arrived home, ready to return to school. Today. She should be getting ready for school.

“Marit?” her mother repeated. “Can you hear me?”

Marit blinked dust from her eyes. “Ja, Mama. I’m all right.”

Lars buried his face in the folds of Mama’s nightgown and cried. “I’m scared!” Her voice shaky, Mama comforted him. “We’re fine,” she said, smoothing his hair with the palm of her hand. “No one is hurt.”

For several minutes they huddled beneath the table, as if the warmth of their bodies could protect them from what had happened. Marit pressed her head against Papa’s chest. He wrapped his arm around her, his heart thudding against her ear. “We’ll get through this,” he said. Then he crawled out from their shelter and his boots crunched across glass to the broken window. He picked up his double-stringed fiddle from its fallen stand and shook out shards of glass. Holding it to his chest, he stared out the window. “Dear God—not Norway, too.”

“Erik!” Mama said. “Get back—please.”

He didn’t move.

“But they might return any second.”

“Nei, I think the Germans have done their damage . . . for the moment.”

Marit’s pulse thudded in her head and her stomach churnedd, but she finally found her voice. “Germans, Papa? Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. I saw the planes. Who else would invade us?”

“Invade,” Marit ventured, “as in Austria and Poland?” Her parents had discussed the latest events throughout Europe every evening attttt the dinner table.

He was quiet for a long moment. “Marit, I don’t know anything for sure yet. We need to find out who else was hit—what kind of damage has been done.”

Limbs trembling, uncertain her legs would hold her, Marit crawled out from under the table. The hutch had hopped an arm’s length from the corner, and Mama’s teapot and porcelain plates lay in splinters. The pot-bellied cookstove tilted through the kitchen wall, leaving a gaping ragged hole.

Marit stepped closer and looked out. Dirt, boards, a bicycle wheel, and pieces of twisted metal littered the yard. Only yesterday four pairs of skis stood in fresh snow against the shed, but now they were scattered and broken matchsticks. More than once, her grandparents had boasted how Norway had avoided war for over a hundred years. They said Norway was a peaceful country that got along with its neighbors. This shouldn’t be happening!

Village dogs began barking. Smoke rose above the trees and drifted in through the holes in her house’s walls and windows. The wail of a woman came from somewhere beyond. Marit’s hands fell to her sides and a vague numbness settled over her. Talk around the village had made her feel safe: “Norway stayed out of the Great War of 1914,” someone had said. “We’ll stay out of this one, too. Our king will see that we stay neutral.” Everyone spoke with certainty that the Nazis would never invade Norway.

But now, it seemed, they had.

Meet the Author

Mary Casanova is the author of nine middle-grade novels and three picture books.She lives with her family in Ranier, Minnesota.

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Klipfish Code 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Today! She lives in MN!!! YEAH!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books in the world!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book i got the sample and red it to my mom and my mom said we are going to by it. I LUV THIS BOOK GROOVY BOOK!!!!!"!!""!!!!! A GROOVY GYMNAST?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book i am so happy it was the coolest thing i ever saw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was very touching
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Guest More than 1 year ago
When World War II breaks out in Europe, young Marit believes everything will stay the same. Norway has managed to stay out of wars before¿until that terrible night that German bombs destroyed everything that she held dear. Now she must leave her parents and home with her younger brother Lars, to her strangely aloof Bestefar¿s house on a remote island. When the twelve-year-old discovers a wounded Norwegian Resistance soldier with a secret message that may drive the hated Nazis out forever, Marit must choose between saving him and putting herself and her family in danger, or turning him in to the Germans. Full of interesting, funny and touching facts about life in Occupied Norway and detailed descriptions of Norwegian culture, this is one of the best historical fiction books I¿ve read in a long time. The writing is so vivid that you can almost see the rocky coasts and feel the salty spray, and the suspense is almost unbearable at times. The many Norwegian words added another dimension of reality, but were close enough to English to not be intimidating. The best part about this book is that the reader can¿t be lazy because it raises many interesting questions about friends versus enemies, courage versus foolishness, choices and humanity in general. The character of Marit was very believable and could think for herself instead of playing damsel in distress. My only complaint was that it moved so quickly that you could easily miss an important point, so make sure you read it thoroughly. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an action-packed read that just happens to be a history lesson, too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Media Para in a Middle School. I had the opportunity of meeting Mary Casanova and was so impressed by her that I couldn't wait to read her newest book, Klipfish Code. I found the book gripping, it was definitely a page turner. I found myself wondering how brave I would have been placed in the same situations as Marit, her grandfather and aunt. Would I have the courage to be willing to die for my beliefs? I'm anxious to recommend this book to my students and look forward to more of Mary's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you 'to Mary Casanova' for writing the Norwegian side of this horrific part of history our children need to know. We, perhaps have become too used to death and destruction when we see news from around the world and wonder if it has become commonplace. Her story brings to light basic human values of doing the right thing at the right time despite the odds, and we all need to follow that example. When tested, human beings tend to march up to the plate and fight for freedom. Klipfish Code helps us believe that no matter what age, no matter the circumstances, we can make a difference. Despite the ravages of the Nazi regime all over Europe, stories of bravery and incredible courage surround us, and the more we know, the better we can prevent something like the annihilation of so many ethnic peoples happening over and over again. Young adults need to be informed and can learn so much from Klipfish Code by Minnesota author, Mary Casanova. All school libraries and public libraries should include this book in their collections.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really gave me insight into what the lives of families were like even in countries that we largely consider to have been 'uninvolved' in the action of WWII. Although the book was written for children, it would be an excellent choice for a whole city reading program because I believe adults would enjoy it as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Klipfish Code was great! I could hardly put it down once I started! This book revolves around two kids, Marit and Lars, and the war between the Norwegians and the Nazi. The kids are separated from their parents and are sent to live with their Aunt and Grandpa. I thought it was neat because I recognized a few Norwegian words like lutefisk, lefse, and velkommen. I think my favorite part was when Marit was telling Lars that the wounded soldier was really a Viking hurt by the kraken, aka the porpoises. Funny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
10987654321 she other of makenna